Activists planning mass protests in cities across America this weekend say they don’t expect to see any overzealous police in riot gear.
But just in case, they’re asking protesters to bring their video cameras and smartphones to the protests scheduled for July 18 and 19. They want everything, especially any interaction with police or with counter-protesters, to be documented on video.
“We are asking our protesters to film everything that happens so we can share these protests with others online and they should be very diligent to record anything involving law enforcement or pro illegal-alien protesters,” said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, one of three organizers representing a broad coalition of 11 activist organizations. “Illegal-alien supporters often burn American flags and show the true nature of this invasion that folks back home need to see.”
The number of communities signed up to participate in the protests – dubbed the National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge – reached 291 as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, and organizers are expecting tens of thousands of people to join the protests in more than 300 communities nationwide.
Gheen told WND he didn’t think police would try to crack down on the thousands of peaceful protesters he expects to turn out on Friday and Saturday at highway intersections, overpasses, state capitals and Mexican consulates.
“We do not expect any SWAT teams or heavy-handed police actions for several reasons,” he said. “First of all, most police officers are on our side on this issue.”
But what about the possibility of federal agents from the FBI or Department of Homeland Security making their presence felt? The DHS threatened to show up and clear protesters blocking the busloads of illegal immigrants being transported to Murrieta, California, last week.
But that never happened. There have been unconfirmed reports that the stand down occurred because Border Patrol agents let it be known they would not obey orders to deliver the illegals if SWAT teams showed up.
“The leaked story from Murrieta is that when Obama’s DHS wanted to crack down on Americans stopping the buses of illegals with riot squads, our Border Patrol officers rebelled and made it clear they would not obey any unlawful orders from up top,” Gheen said. “Obama knows that any major attempt to use force to stop these protests will only increase the backlash against him and bring more attention to the surge of illegal immigrants he is bringing into the country.
“So we believe there are three good reasons we won’t see any police-state crackdown,” he continued.
The organizers are asking protesters to remain peaceful and obey all laws “but to disregard any unconstitutional orders from officers and we would ask all police officers to refuse any unconstitutional orders as well,” Gheen said. “Americans have a First Amendment right to assemble and protest as long as we do not create a danger to others.”
So far police reaction to immigration protests across the nation have been fairly muted. A protest in Vassar, Michigan, attracted participants carrying AR-15s slung over their shoulders and handguns in side-holsters. Police officers were seen in a local newspaper’s photo slideshow, never straying very far from the armed protesters, but they did not seem to interfere with their First Amendment rights.
But if the lessons of the last few years hold true, protesters can expect to be monitored closely by the FBI, the DHS and other federal agencies. It is also likely the feds will have eyes and ears on location in the form of local police officers who will essentially be working as undercover federal agents. Since 9/11, local sheriff’s offices and police departments have repeatedly trained with DHS and even the military on such things as active-shooter drills and riot control.
Paul Arnold, an anti-illegal immigration activist and creator of the Facebook page Make Them Listen, said he believes local police will be on their best behavior this weekend.
“Why would they send SWAT teams?” he said. “We’re not stopping any buses. That was the thing that was supposed to of happened Tuesday in Oracle, Arizona, so we sent in an emergency group of protesters, but the buses never showed up. We just spread the word for it and people came. The buses never arrived. I guess they found out we were going to be there so they never showed up.”
Arnold was more worried about counter-protesters than about police.
“I do know there’s a lot of opposition in Arizona, in Phoenix, and we will be at the state Capitol on Friday where we are having a protest. And the opposition has promised to show up,” he said.
Gheen said the chances of police brutality occurring are more likely in major cities with large immigrant populations.
“It could vary. The chances where harassment could be an issue would be in your heavily illegal-immigrant communities such as Los Angeles, but we have brave protesters who are going to protest there,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot less likely that police are going to mess with anybody in Lenoir or Mooresville, North Carolina, as opposed to Los Angeles.
“Our message is clear: obey all the laws, be respectful and disregard all unconstitutional orders by police. If people are rightfully assembled on a public street and they encounter an officer interfering with their lawful rights to assemble they should refuse those orders.”
Based on what happened in Murrieta, ALIPAC is preparing for the possibility that “appropriate civil disobedience” may have to be employed, Gheen said.
“We don’t want anybody to break the law but appropriate civil disobedience in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi may be called for, civil disobedience may be necessary,” he told WND. “If any officer tries to arrest our protester, our protester should sit down and place their hands behind their backs, not complying but not resisting. We don’t want citizens or police to follow any unlawful or unconstitutional orders and if they believe police are operating under any unconstitutional orders their response should be passive resistance and get everything on film and then get the film to alipac.us as fast as possible, please. Film all inappropriate activity by illegal alien supporters and get that to ALIPAC as well.”
Gheen has started referring to the surge of illegal immigration at the southern border as “a smuggling operation.”
“They’re going to conceal the planes and the buses from the public. … That is the type of behavior I would expect from a smuggling operation,” he said. “Obama is running this thing like a classic smuggling operation.”
For a list of protest locations and times, broken down by state and city, click here.
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